Sanctuaire – Le Sang sur l’Acier [Canada, Black / Ambient] (2016)

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Les Productions Hérétiques | 5-28-16

Les Productions Hérétiques | 5-28-16

I feel that putting Ambient and Atmospheric on top of an album as a description can be akin to pushing it in certain direction that may not be appropriate. Le Sang sur l’Acier is not ambient in the same way as lets say Darkspace but it is not atmospheric in the same way as the thousands of other bands that share that style. There is a small knoll of earth reserved for bands that not only love atmosphere but also rotting vocals, organs, and perhaps some woodsy chants. For all of that, this space of earth is perfect for Sanctuaire.

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Fuath – I [Scotland, Atmospheric Black] (2016)

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Fortriu Productions | 2-1-16

Fortriu Productions | 2-1-16

Andy Marshall is a busy person. In 2014, his project Saor broke out of the relative thicket of atmospheric black metal and gave a larger audience something to hope for in that style of music. Saor’s Aura was a wonderful record which did not do so much new things int he style rather just do them very well. Fuath is another project from Marshall and seems to be a repository for all of the music which doesn’t fit , thematically, with Saor. From the folk laced atmospheric black metal of Saor we dive into a pile of snow surrounded by ritualistic statues.

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Turia – Dor [Netherlands, Black] (2015)

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Haeresis Noviomagi | 11-15-15

Haeresis Noviomagi | 11-15-15

I can say with certainty I have loved everything the Dutch label Haeresis Noviomagi has released. I can say this since it has only been two cassettes. they have been really good cassettes though. the last Haeresis Noviomagi cassette was Lubbert Das, a particularly mind melting black metal which seemed to be dedicated to an old Bosch painting. Turia follows Lubbert Das in continuing the undercurrent of harrowing Dutch black metal which sounds like the last bastion of sanity being razed to the ground.

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葬尸湖 ( Zuriaake) – 孤雁 (Gu Yan) [China, Atmospheric Black] (2015)

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Pest Productions | 10-15-15

Pest Productions | 10-15-15

I know with Zuriaake there are few certainties. Throughout my explorations of East Asian heavy metal, that strange and wonderful things can be found at a moments notice. Finding Pest Productions was a treasure trove of mostly Chinese depressive and atmospheric black metal. Pest Productions got some undue notice last year as being the label which hosted Ghost Bath’s 2014 record Funeral. The fallout regarding Ghost Bath’s regional identiy sort of took away the spotlight to some other great bands that were from China and making black metal. Zuriaake was one of them and at the time, this 3 piece had not made a full length since 2007. Things are different now.

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Skialykon – Vestigio [Italy, Black / Ambient] (2015)

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Naturmacht Productions | 7-26-15

Naturmacht Productions | 7-26-15

Calling Skialykon atmospheric black metal is a bit misleading for anyone familiar with the term. When one uses the term “atmospheric,” the usual path leads to soaring tremolo guitars and songs about nature and transcendental themes. I guess Skialykon has its fair share of nature themes and tremelo but this one man project seems different. Whether or not it is the moody synth or the slow plodding vocals trails which lead into dark patches of brambles, Vestigio becomes something much different than its siblings. Skialykon soon resembles the ugly child of the atmospheric family.

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Nevoa – The Absence of Void [Portugal, Atmospheric Black] (2015)

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Altare Productions | 6-29-15

Altare Productions | 6-29-15

For the most part, location and place of origin is only cosmetic when evaluating music. Sure it is interesting to highlight certain scenes and possible movements based on region and good records from places with other good records is something of note. I would be lying if I said that the fact that this atmospheric black metal record was rom Portugal did not give a reason for a second glance. This is not because Portugal is lacking in heavy metal bands rather that their metal bands seem to be operating at normal capacity with the majority still unheard. This country is about to explode.

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Shaidar Logoth – Chapter II: The Ritualist [US, Black/Drone] (2015)

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Self Released | 3-1-15

Self Released | 3-1-15

Well, okay. This is something interesting. Shaidar Logoth seems to be the side project for Adam Clemans current front man for the Profound Lore act Wolvhammer and onetime vocalist for Veil of Maya and Steven Henningsgard who already collaborated with the singer for Iron Thrones. Though all bands involved are under the extreme metal umbrella, the work for Shaidar Logoth is something different. Chapter II: The Ritualist continues the band’s near silent lamentation of noise, despair, and complete obliteration of the self.

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Akhlys – The Dreaming I [US, Black] (2015)

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Debemur Morti Productions | 4-20-15

Debemur Morti Productions | 4-20-15

It shouldn’t be a surprise that US based black metal project Akhlys has some sort of ground swell with its second record The Dreaming I. First of all, the project’s creator Naas Alcameth also made waves last year with Season of Mist act Nightbringer and their 2014 record Ego Dominus Tuus. If one was left with any burning questions after Nightbringer’s record came to a close, Akhlys is here for an afterparty in the voids where nightmares and dreams spill into one.

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Eternal Valley – Ascend To The Unknown [US, Black / Ambient] (2015)

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Self Released | 3-18-15

Self Released | 3-18-15

Sometimes one knows they are going to enjoy a record. A one man black metal project who self releases black metal records about cosmic themes and obliteration? Yep, this should be simple. Eternal Valley was already halfway in the door just by glancing at previous records and album artwork. The deal was sealed however at the oozing synth which washed over the album’s opener “Path To An Astral Existence.” Sometimes riding on convention allows like minded people to flock in droves to a star which just about to collapse and die.

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Crom Dubh – Heimweh [UK, Atmospheric Black] (2015)

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Ván Records | 3-29-15

Ván Records | 3-29-15

Crom Dubh is interesting for a variety of reasons. First of all this 4 piece is interesting for their addition into the UK extreme metal scene whose both black and death production has been fantastic in the last couple of years. Second of all, Crom Dubh’s debut Heimweh is worthy of note specifically for the band’s employment of the atmospheric style which is smooth and well oiled. Heimweh comes on the wings of a few other silent demos and EP releases and is even now shining bright on a lonely hill waiting for more people to show up. Though audience is relative, Crom Dubh’s relative obscurity is surprising given the sound which could be appealing to a wide spectrum of listeners. Perhaps Heimweh will be the time which the sky cracks open and pours ink black water over this land.

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